World Rugby Corporation fails to fly

THE RUGBY WAR <br> <b> Peter FitzsimonsTHE RUGBY WAR
Peter Fitzsimons

Published: 1996.

Sport: Rugby.

Sample: ''There is a story that circulates in New Zealand, that one of the recent All Black captains was finished from the moment he appeared on the national evening news fielding a call on his mobile phone while in a rugby dressing room. It painted him as 'just another Aucklander yuppie scum' in the words of one New Zealand journalist, and his captaincy never recovered.''

The setting: The rugby fields, lawyers' offices and union headquarters of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa during the incredible period in 1995-96 when the establishment nearly lost control of the sport.

The protagonists: Rupert Murdoch, Kerry Packer, Louis Luyt, Jock Hobbs, Ross Turnbull, Geoff Levy, Francois Pienaar and hundreds of other rugger types.

Why it is brilliant: Because it's different. Because there's never been a rugby book quite like it. Because it's still an incredibly exciting yarn, 16 years after it all went down. And because Fitzsimons is a great storyteller. The World Rugby Corporation failed to fly, but the preparation for take-off is an absorbing yarn.

Don't just take my word for it: ''The rugby story of the decade.'' - Murray Deaker.

The aftermath: The book was re-released in 2003. Fitzsimons has been a prolific author in recent years, churning out books on rugby, war and great Australians. As for the sport of rugby, well, it's into the teenage years in terms of professionalism: still has some issues but will eventually mature. Is it much less of a circus than the WRC would have been? Hmmm.